Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 55 - 30th June 2012

Photograph 1 - Inside the Boeing Factory "Future of Flight" building, Everett, Washington. The vertical stabiliser in the background is an actual item from a 747 original series that has flown many hours across the world.

Photograph 2 - The world's biggest building (in volume), the Boeing Factory at Everett, (near Seattle) Washington. It looks small from where the photo was taken, however, inside is massive. Those are brand new $300M USD 787 Dreamliner aircraft parked in front - probably for ANA or Japan Airlines.

Photograph 3 -  A Dreamlifter aircraft at the Everett Boeing Factory. There are only four in existence. They are used to convey large aircraft parts from other factories around the world.

Photograph 4 - A brand spanking new Boeing 747-8 waiting to take the green preservative off before painting. At the Everett Boeing Factory.

Photograph 5 - A new Dreamliner Boeing 787. It appears to be waiting for engines. These aircraft are 50% made from composite materials (plastic in other words). This material is lighter and much more fuel efficient. The important aspect inside this aircraft is more leg room for passengers.....we are yet to see this! At the Everett Boeing Factory.

Photograph 6 - In the Seattle Food Market. Being a Saturday the market was packed out with people. This is some of the delicious seafood on offer.

Photograph 7 - Same as above. The lobster tails were huge!

Photograph 8 - Basically the centre of Seattle. The corner of 3rd Avenue and Pine Street.

It was overcast today. A bit of rain occurred but it didn't worry us. We were collected from our hotel at 9:15am for the Boeing Factory tour. It is located north of Seattle at a suburb called Everett. It has its own airfield (Paine Airfield) and more significantly has the worlds biggest building in volume. So big it has its own climate inside.....the building is huge. There are three daily shifts for 45,000 workers. It has a complex underground tunnel system and can manufacture several 747s, several 777s and many new 787 (Dreamliners) inside the building at the same time. Our tour was okay, but Boeing will not allow cameras, cellphones, or any electronic devices inside that building. So....that is the reason why we have not added any photos above. On the good side there was a Dreamlifter parked outside and only four are in existence. We returned back to the centre of Seattle at 2pm and certainly Anne had to visit her favourite shop at Macy's. Their clothes are soooooo cheap and hard not to buy. Also in Seattle we visited the Food Market and it was packed out. The seafood, flowers and fruit on offer at the stalls were extremely fresh. And the seafood as in lobsters, prawns, salmon and other North American fish were huge. We had a lunch/dinner at one of the diners and glutton ourselves into a seafood platter - yum. Well tomorrow it's time to leave Seattle. We wish we could stay for a few more days - the city has lots to offer. We crank up Connie tomorrow and head south for a place called Salem in Oregon (no not the witches of Salem as back in them old colonial days - that town is over in the New England region of USA). Depending on time we may divert and visit Mount Rainer just south of Seattle. However we will be happy just to view the 14,000 feet mountain from afar. Cheers

Oh by the way all you readers of this blog. And especially those who know Anne. It is her birthday on the 4th of July (next Wednesday). For those who may want to wish her a happy birthday please send it to her a day before (we are about 17 hours behind Sydney). I'm certain she would love to hear from her good friends and acquaintances. For those who do not have our email address (Unfortunately I cannot give our email address in this blog) please contact our dancing friends (Michael & Peter Cs, David W and so on) I'm certain they will oblige.  Neil

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 54 - 29th June 2012

Photograph 1 - Our weird looking Amtrak Cascade train at Seattle Railroad Station.

Photograph 2 - This is the Peace Memorial right on the border of Canada and USA near Vancouver. It represents the close bond between these two countries.

Photograph 3 - Vancouver is a maze of bridges. Just one of many river crossings near Vancouver, Canada.

Photograph 4 - Coal Harbour taken from Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada. Near the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.

Photograph 5 - Totem Poles of Stanley Park, Vancouver. On their $50 Dollar note??

Photograph 6 - Girl in a Wet Suit - an almost copy of the Little Mermaid of Copenhagen, Stanley Park, Vancouver.

Photograph 7 - Anne steadying the horses - Pepper and Rob in Stanley Park, Vancouver.

Photograph 8 - Along the main street in Vancouver, Georgia Street.

Photograph 9 - Anne shopping at Sears, Vancouver.

Photograph 10 - Neil's true version of a log jam, near Vancouver, Canada.

Just a short burst tonight as it is late. We woke early and arrange a cab to Seattle Amtrak Railroad Station for the 7:45am Cascade Train. The journey took four hours from Seattle to Vancouver. Crossing through the border was a cinch and formalities occurred at Vancouver Railroad Station.We took a cab direct to Stanley Park, a well known tourist location in Vancouver. Had lunch at a roadside diner (yummy tacos) and took a horse drawn wagon ride through Stanley Park. The weather was kind to us all day as it was expected to rain. The trip around Stanley Park was relaxing and Anne fell in love with the horses. The young, and I may say, very attractive, driver was excellent in her presentation. After the ride we walked back to Vancouver Station, however, Anne had to stop at Sears to check out and buy clothes (see photo above). The walk back was over three klms. We departed by bus at 5pm and arrived back at Seattle at 9:15pm - one half hour late. The immigration and border control on the American side was s$%tful111 It took over an hour to wait and clear all the formalities (lack of staff was the main offending problem). Tomorrow we are on a tour of the Boeing Factory in Seattle. Renown to have the world's biggest building. So until then - cheers.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 53 - 28th June 2012

Photograph 1 - This lake appeared all of a sudden as we were driving to Seattle. Looked like a flooded Grand Canyon. Near Coulee City, Washington.

Photograph 2 - This is one of the beautiful manicured pools within Ohme Gardens, Wenatchee, Washington. It was created by Herman Ohme in 1929 and people around wanted to enjoy and share the beauty of his garden. So he charged money to deter these visitors. Didn't work out that way - now there are many visitors. The unusual feature about this garden is its location on a hillside and in semi-desert.

Photograph 3 - How Ohme's garden crept along the hillside.

Photograph 4 - Well what can we say? Anne cussing and cursing Neil to stay put and enjoy Ohme's creation.

Photograph 5 - The wonders of the Rocky Mountain near a place called Goldbar. Not far from Seattle, Washington.

Photograph 6 - Downtown Seattle, Washington taken from the Space Needle (503 feet high).

Photograph 7 - Looking down on top of a TV station from the Space Needle, Seattle. A chopper ready for a quick scoop over Seattle.

Photograph 8 - Puget Sound, Seattle taken from the Space Needle. Note the thousands of boats moored in the Marina.

Photograph 9 - The Seattle Space Needle, built in 1962 for the Expo that Seattle hosted. It was a marvel and novel creation during that period.

Photograph 10 - A free picture was taken when buying tickets to go to the top of the Space Needle. However, once on top we had to send it to our email address.

Photograph 11 - At the bottom of the Space Needle was this huge fountain. It was worth taking a picture of this water works.

It was a six hour drive from Spokane to Seattle. We could of taken the expressway route which would have taken four hours or less. However, we chose to go through the scenic lesser road through desert areas and across the mountain range with more interesting sights. After leaving Spokane we drove past Fairchild Air Force Base where the big transport aircraft resides. Driving on we made it to Wenatchee and visited Ohme Gardens. This is well advertised in many tourist books to visit this creation in the middle of the semi-desert. We say semi-desert due to the lush and fertile river where framers grow cherries but the surrounding district is dry and treeless. Ohme Gardens is a creation started from poor and rocky soil. Herman Ohme began as a hobby and it turned out great. So great that many visitors invaded his property in the 1930's. To combat this Herman fenced it off and charged a fee. This made was not what he wanted....more visitors arrived with open wallets. So eventually he sold the property and currently it in the hands of the County estate. For us it was worth the $7 USD each to walk around the garden. After our visit we drove across the Steven Pass to reach Seattle. Twenty klms or so before this city we entered the expressway and away we went. If it wasn't for our GPS (we love you Charlotte) we probably would be heading for Canada! Seattle is on Puget Sound and basically surrounded by water on all sides - almost an island. Therefore to reach the centre of Seattle we had to cross over long bridges. This is where the fun begins when driving without local knowledge makes driving a non-pleasurable experience. Our GPS kept saying, bear left (where's the bear!) turn right, do a U-turn, keep in the left lane........etc etc etc...... all in one kilometre. Well we arrive right at our hotel without too much stress. After we checked in we walked to the Space Needle and sussed-out the views from the top. We did heard that it will rain tomorrow and the next day so a visit this afternoon gave us some good views. Tomorrow we have a return ticket to Vancouver, Canada. So an early start for a three and a half hour rail journey north. We will have four hours in Vancouver before we catch a train back to Seattle. Hopefully returning at 8:45pm. Our Connie is now parked underneath the hotel for a few days. In her mechanical world she would be thankful for the well deserved rest. Until tomorrow - cheers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 52 - 27th June 2012

Photograph 1 - Our dear Allison loved rainbows. We thought that this may be a message from her. Taken at St Mary, Montana just as we were leaving our accommodation at 7:15am The image at the left of the rainbow is the slope of the mountain, the rest is covered with cloud.

Photograph 2 - As we were crossing Logan Pass the temperature was 0 decC. There was sleet but coming down on the other side it was wet and miserable. This is one of the many waterfalls from melting snow along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana.

Photograph 3 - A view of Lake MacDonald, West Entrance to the Glacier National Park, Montana. The weather was improving but still overcast. We actually came through the v-shaped valley in the centre of the picture.

Photograph 4 - Our accommodation in Spokane, Washington state. Doesn't the Davenport look like a Commonwealth Bank money box?

Photograph 5 - The Spokane River flowing through the centre of the city - a miniature Niagara Falls.

Photograph 6 - Anne enjoying the stroll across the Spokane River Falls suspension bridge.

Photograph 7 - The icon of Spokane, Washington - the Clock Tower.

Photograph 8 - Spokane has three waterfalls, this one is near the Monroe Street Bridge. The amount and flow of water is awesome.

Well, at last we are on Wifi again. We made it to Spokane in Washington state after leaving a wet and miserable St Mary, Montana. It didn't worry us yesterday as it was a rest day but today the climb over Logan Pass westward was a hair-raising experience. We left at 7:15am and saw a great rainbow as we left St Mary. We thought that this was a message from Allison who is guiding our way. Logan Pass there was sleet and the rangers had the snow-plow out moving broken pieces of snow and water off the road. We were worried about black-ice. Descending down from Logan Pass was not fun either. The road is so narrow and they were doing road works! Nevertheless at the bottom we entered the Pacific side of the Continental Divide and the weather improved. We drove to Spokane in Washington state passing through the Panhandle of Idaho. Interesting the east to west journey across Idaho was only about 150 klms or so - it did not take us long. We felt like Forest Gump running across the states in all directions. We arrived at Spokane to a warm and beautiful weather at 3pm. Settled in to the Davenport Hotel in the centre of the city. To reach the Davenport we experienced so many traffic lights that it reminded us of Mulgoa Road in Penrith. As a city Spokane retains its old buildings, the bulk look like Commonwealth Bank money boxes. There is nary a skyscraper here....and they boast they are the biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis! We discovered that Spokane is Bing Crosby's (not his birthplace) home town. We had some time and walked around the waterfall area of Spokane - a tremendous river flows through the centre with three waterfalls to give the onlooker a taste of Rocky Mountain hospitality. Anne found another Macy's during our walk and bought some more clothes. This time two tops (I think that what she called them) were only $5USD each! We have a five to six hour drive to Seattle tomorrow and now feeling that our holiday is on its final leg.  So untiltomorrowcheers.

PS: We forget to mentioned about our non-alcoholic day yesterday. Apparently the Blackfeet Indian tribe were having their election day yesterday. Therefore no alcohol was sold in the Indian Reservation and National Park. The nearest drinking-hole was in Canada or 140klms away in Montana. Many people were not happy in St Mary, Montana last night.........we did had a supply of firewater in our fridge but we never told anybody....shhhhhhhhh!

Day 51 - 26th June 2012

Photograph 1 – A young grizzly bear near Jackson Glacier Lookout. This bear just walked across the road right next to our car. On the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Photograph 2 – And again, using Anne’s camera. Anne was the closest to the bear when walking past.

Photograph 3 –  A beautiful scene heading towards Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Not far when we spotted the first grizzly bear.

Photograph 4 – The bridge over the St Mary River, just one mile from our accommodation. Two interesting things here, first this was the bridge that Forest Gump crossed in the movies of the same name (he appears to be everywhere in the US that we have been). Secondly, our second grizzly bear sighting was a few hundred metres before this bridge.

WE SAW TWO GRIZZLY BEARS IN THE WILD TODAY!!!   It was a rest day, just recuperating after many days of long driving. We are still at St Mary, Montana just a few hundred metres from the eastern entrance to the Glacier National Park. To allow the housekeeper to clean our room we decided to take Connie to Logan Pass on the Going-to-the-Sun Road and repeat what we did yesterday by the Red Bus. About half way there a young grizzly bear who just walked across the road as if we were not there. We stopped and took pictures while he or she was scrounging for food along the edge of the road….amazing! Apparently bears spend 90% of their time digging around for plants and searching for berries. The other 10% - experts don’t explain. Perhaps it’s their amorous quality time or changing their diet from herbaceous to a carnivorous cuisine??? After the excitement in seeing a real life “free” grizzly bear in the wild we continued to Logan Pass. At the visitor station on top of this pass they were selling cuddly toys. Anne had to buy (or should I say adopt) a grizzly bear! Going back down the road and near the end we saw another grizzly…..this time it was twice the size and darted in the forest next to our car. It was difficult to take photos because of the vegetation was dark and the bear was behind many trees. Wow – two in one day. We think the reason why these great animals were on the road is because the weather was inclement. In fact by the time we arrived back to our accommodation (12:30pm) it poured and actually hailed. This is our first day of rain since we have been on the road….but who cared… was our rest day. The afternoon was just relaxing in our lodge and repacking our bags. Tomorrow we are back on the road again and heading west to Spokane in Washington state. Damn it… we have to cross over the Going-to-the-Sun Road again along he Glacier National Park to travel west. This time we have to press on past Logan Pass to descend into the Pacific Rockies. The good thing about this is - passing by the same spots where we saw the bears – we might be lucky again tomorrow. Readers of this narrative may think we get excited about meeting bears in the wild, but just think of meeting a potential dangerous animal who is free to do whatever it does,  naturally… and these creatures just go pass you as if you are just another lamp post.  Until tomorrow, cheers.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 50 - 25th June 2012

Photograph 1 – Along Lake Sherburne towards Many Glacier. In the Glacier National Park, Montana.

Photograph 2 – The sign says it all, taken along the Many Glacier Road near Babb, Montana.

Photograph 3 –  A beautiful scene of Swiftcurrent Lake heading towards Many Glacier.

Photograph 4 - The fast flowing river separating Lake Sherburne and Swiftcurrent Lake, Many Glacier.

Photograph 5 – The Glacier Red Bus tour – this old veteran was built in 1936. Taken near Wild Goose Island, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Photograph 6 – View of Jackson Glacier one of the 20 or so glaciers left in the park. They say that 100 years ago there were 200 glaciers in the park – global warming!!!

Photograph 7 – Travelling through a road tunnel near Logan Pass along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park. Note the waterfall on the right.

Photograph 8 – Approaching Logan Pass, Going-to-the-Sun Road. They say that all the ice and snow will be gone within a couple of weeks.

Photograph 9 – On top of Logan Pass, a mere 6,500 feet high. This is the continental divide line between eastern and western USA.

Photograph 10 – Anne trying to find her way through the packed ice maze. On top of Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Photograph 11 – The picture doesn’t do justice for this view. The tightly narrow Sunrift Gorge along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana.

It was a rest day today. About 10:30am we drove to Many Glacier (about 33 klms away) and checked out the lakes and mountains in the northern sector of the Glacier National Park. The scenes are similar to some of the fjords we seen in Norway many years ago. However, we believe that Norway is still number one in that category. We were warned about bears. Apparently it is rare they are seen on the road and especially not in the middle of the day. We only spent about two hours in this area and at one stage we were only15 kilometers from the Canadian border. Returning back to St Mary we had our lunch and slept a few hours in the afternoon – feels like we were back in Penrith on a Sunday afternoon! At 4:30pm we took a Glacier Red Bus tour from St Mary to Logan Pass. This drive travels along a scenic drive called Going-to-the-Sun Road. The red bus was built in 1936 (we thought that Bonnie and Clyde must of travelled on this bus at one stage) and holds seventeen passengers. It was a good experience. The driver (Eric) stopped at all the major vantage points and explained each interesting activities, geological features and historical aspects at each site. We returned at 7:30pm (still as bright as it was at noon) had dinner in an old fashioned diner and finished up for the day. The sun does not go down until 9pm at this latitude and time of year. We do not know what we are going to do tomorrow – it is another rest day. Perhaps we may drive Connie along the Going-to-the-Sun Road for another look see or perhaps we may go for a short hike nearby (we will take along some bear-spray we think!). Cheers.